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This month Robb conducted in an interview with Dr. Thomas N. Seyfried about Cancer and Metabolic Control Analysys and I had a few questions.
"A 24-hour fast in mice is comparable to a 6-7-day fast in humans. . . Thus, the health benefits attributed to CR in mice can be realized in humans who engage in water only therapeutic fasting for at least three to four days."
Water only fasting for 3-4 days? That seems a bit extreme and difficult to do for any length of time. Does anyone have any experience with fasting of this nature in combination with Athletic performance and weight gain/maintenance?
"The maximum period of water only fasting differs widely among people and among the young, middle aged, and elderly. About 40 days is the maximum period of therapeutic fasting in normal sized young adults (about 160-175 lbs)."
Maybe I am under-informed, but, can a person with 10% or less bodyfat survive a 20 day fast without serious health side effects? Is this type of fasting only in regards to fighting tumors?
I think that is what Rob was eluding to in the wrap-up. As the doctor was primarily concerned with sick patients, his knowlege of the effect on performance in otherwise healthy individuals seems to be a bit lacking.
I think the take-home message is that putting your body in an occasional state of ketosis has some pretty amazing effects that are just now being understood through some scattered research. Until the verdict is in, we have to go on assumptions based on the available data, all of which seems to point towards improvements across the board when we begin to align ourselves with more intermittency in our survival patterns.
Sounds ridiculous to me. I noticed health benefits that are nothing short of amazing with a 20 hr IF pattern. I think the reason his fasts work for sick people is because they keep the individual in ketosis for a longer period of time. The same results could likely be acheieved through a ketogenic diet initiated by severe carb restriction minus body/muscle wasting side effects of long fasts.
That's basically what he says at one point, that cyclic low-carb diets work to essentially starve tumors and retard their growth. I think it should be relatively obvious that you can't expect to perform well as a healthy athlete by following a plan that is outlined as a substitute for extreme pharmaceutical intervention in terminally ill patients. What this article DOES outline is the fact that the needs of a healthy and athletic individual differ from those of a sick individual by scale, not necessarily type.
It begins to sound more and more like the sickness/wellness/fitness continuum, doesn't it?
Studies in Muslim's during Ramadan have shown beneficial effects of fasts as short as 15 hours, and every other day 20 hours fasts have also shown beneficial effects in humans. So, I wouldn't be worried that you aren't getting any health benefits without fasting for 3-4 days.
Well if you want to know from someone who has endured long water fasts I might be able to add a couple of points.
Bear in mind at the time I was only starting with CrossFit so my fitness level was considerably less though my activity level was high. (I was at 20% BF at the time as well)
February 2005 (On exercise for 6 days with 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artilery as an Infantry liason)
- decided to take matters into my own hands as I was not getting any results in weight loss with the doctor recommended high carb approach. Water only fast for the duration of the exercise. (working 19 hours a day digging in, and teaching artillery guys how an Infantry platoon would layout a trench position differently, in -40 weather!)
- First day, had headaches pretty bad, lack of glucose can cause this from what I understand. And was feeling a bit rough but I trudged on.
- Headaches were gone by second day, and I was feeling alright, I was able to continue to work.
- By day three I was on the black coffee and tons of water. I was starting to have minor nervous shakes (hand twitch, it happens when I'm hungry). But my work output was still high.
- Day four I couldn't sleep very well even though I was exhausted (keeping in mind I was an insomniac at this point 4 hours of unbroken sleep per night was tons) I was volunteering for sentry on the gun line.
- While we moved positions two or three times a day (artillery guys really don't stay put very long, afraid of counter battery effects) I still was able to have a pretty high output even though I was craving food at that point.
- Im not sure exactly when it occured but on day 5 or 6 my digestive system just gave up and the hunger was pretty much gone. I was able to stay actually very alert even though I wasn't getting much sleep (any in fact). The officers on exercise got concerned at one point and had me examined by the medics, who told me I looked pretty good and told me I was nuts. I said yes I am, and they made sure to keep an eye on me for the remainder of the Ex.
- And thats what I remember, I was able to perform at expected levels, I received compliments from "higher" on my performance.
- Now on the level of fat loss, while I lost weight it wasn't drastic, and I'm not even sure it was fat. I wasn't very accurate in my measuring back then. So that is one experience of a medium length fast.
I've had some other experiences in my youth with longer water fasts, for religious reasons, but I don't remember much from those experiences other than they sucked •••!!! And I was also a computer nerd and a vegetable.
I stopped eating for 7 days in college just to see if I could. First few days where miserable towards the end it got really easy and I experienced euphoria and some mild hallucinations, it was an interesting experience. Did mountain biking during this whole thing except towards the end as I felt a little out of it.
I'm hyperinsulinemic and diabetes runs in my family (basically it looks like I will have it eventually). Is there any research about how intermittent fasting helps or hurts people like me who are very sensitive ?
I've done some fasting (about 24-36 hours) and it felt ok. But in general if I don't eat every 3 hours our so my brain functions take a huge dive.
I often work out in the morning before eating and it's not a problem -- though I have a harder time doing something like CrossFit than I do just running with an empty stomach.
Anyone else experiment with this that has blood sugar issues?
(Message edited by mox on July 18, 2006)
I used to be in the same boat as you Matt. Once i went paleo I saw a major improvement in my blood sugar control. Once I went low-carb paleo and incorporated IF my problem was literally non-existent. If I continued to eat high carb my whole life there's no doubt that I would have diabetes some day, no doubt. I think IF really does help with hyperinsulinemia. Even at higher carb intakes IF seems to keep my blood sugar under control. What does your diet look like right now?
I've been eating low carb for about 5 years and in general it's been fine. I ate veggies (not as much as now) meat, protien shakes, lots of salads (tons of salads!) cheese and full-fat yogurt and nuts (mainly almonds but other nuts, too).
I had a physical a few months ago and found that my blood sure was a little high -- which bothered me since I've been eating well for about 5 years. After that I started looking into the Zone, even though it seemed to go against what I had read in various hypoglycemia books, Protien Power, and various low-carb books/studies, etc.
I've been trying the Zone for a couple months and it feels ok but I can't seem to lose any weight. The gist of my "Zoning" has been to:
* try to balance individual meals (I used to eat less during the day and a bigger dinner)
* to eat more fruit (I mostly skipped fruit because of the sugar). Previously I was eating blueberries and Strawberries mostly. Now I'm eating green apples and more melons.
* to eat even more veggies.
* to lower my fat intake (it took a few years to convince myself that fat was OK and I was eating plenty of it!)
* add things such as oatmeal back into my diet along with very limited 'bad' carbs. Low carb noodles and the occasional wheat toast.
I used to carry around raw almonds and low-carb torillas to make sure I could eat every 3 hours or so. It seemed to work pretty well for me (except for my blood test).
I'm not sure the Zone is working for me, it's hard to pin down. I don't always have much energy and I've been tired. I'm having a hard time debugging my diet.
I'm probably eating too many bars since it's hard for me to balance a snack every 3 hours.
I'm not sure what to do from here. I just ordered Protien Power Lifeplan (I have Protien Power, it's what started me on this journey 5-6 years ago).
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